AN under threat respite home for children with learning difficulties is to be used as emergency accommodation for children with disabilities.

Essex County Council wants to use Lavender House, in Colchester, as temporary accommodation for disabled children under the age of 16 in addition to overnight short breaks.

The council does not currently have access to any emergency accommodation for children with disabilities.

Lavender House was given a three-year reprieve in 2019.

There are concerns respite being offered there by Essex County Council could be permanently reduced.

Families with children with severe special needs previously said their lives would be wrecked without the vital centre and another in Harlow.

They currently provide overnight short breaks to children with learning difficulties so their families can get respite.

Council officers are exploring possible sites for emergency provision and the only available site is Lavender House.

Read more >> “I don't know if we would cope without it' - fears for kids' disabled respite centre

Between April to September 2021, the county council made eight emergency placements for children, at an average cost of £8,000 a week.

Lavender House, which has three flats, is currently registered with Ofsted to provide short breaks for up to 12 children but not for emergency placements.

A council report says: “It is therefore proposed that the Lavender House registration is varied with Ofsted to provide care and accommodation for one child to live permanently at Lavender House in The Chestnuts, if required, as well as to continue to accommodate children and young people under short breaks arrangements.

“The registration of Lavender House for this purpose would only be until the outcome of the short breaks review is completed, or a longer term solution for accommodation for children with disabilities is found, whichever is sooner.

“This proposal has no impact on families that currently use Lavender House or on any unmet need for short breaks provision.”